(CBS) Cubs left-hander Jose Quintana hasn’t been himself lately, and manager Joe Maddon believes he knows why.
“He’s working too hard to get his outs early, if that makes any sense,” Maddon said in an in-studio interview with Matt Spiegel and Danny Parkins on 670 The Score on Tuesday. “He’s coming out in the first inning and really working way too hard to get his outs.”
After a great first impression with the Cubs following his acquisition from the White Sox in mid-July, Quintana has struggled in his past three starts, over which he’s worked 16 innings and allowed 10 earned runs on 16 hits and six walks. Maddon agreed Quintana is “fighting” to get through innings.
“A pitcher in the course of a seven-inning performance, there’s going to be those couple three moments, hopefully maybe four possibly that he has to really work to get through, but he’s working from like the very first inning,” Maddon said.
“Go out there and dot up your fastball and get early count outs. Definitely don’t try to strike people out, don’t try to expose all your pitches too quickly too soon. If you just spot up fastballs well early, they’re going to put the ball, they’re going to make early count outs and you’re going to have a good pitch count going into the fifth, sixth inning. I think he is — and I’ve seen other pitchers do it — where they’re working way too hard to get their outs early in the game. For me, it’s about that’s really a fastball time of the game. I believe that. Of course, if there’s people in scoring positions, you may have to alter that, but I think you avoid that by spotting up what you do best, and he’s a really good fastball pitcher with great command. Spot that up and get easier outs early. Because you’re going to run into a couple jams, and you need that little thing in your back pocket. You also need that stuff that they really haven’t seen to that point. When you expose everything too often early, also, everybody’s watching on the bench. Word goes back to the dugout. All that stuff works against you, conspires against you.
“So I like early count outs in the game quickly, and I like it with the fastball.”
Quintana is 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA in six starts with the Cubs.